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The latest reviews and recommendations directly from your favorite Southern indie booksellers


Current favorites of Southern indie booksellers. [FULL LIST]


Never Tell by Stacey Abrams

When Erin, a local professor and criminal psychologist, gets drawn into a serial murder case, she wants nothing more than to run the other way. When the clues start leading to her own past; however, she’s got no choice than to fully immerse herself into the investigation – with the help of the charming local newspaper owner desperate for a story that will save his paper. Never Tell is a must-read for anyone who likes romance, mysteries, or a well-drawn out game of cat and mouse. Stacey Abrams’ While Justice Sleeps was one of my favorite books of 2021, so I’m excited to read through her suspense novels, written under the name Selena Montgomery.

Never Tell by Stacey Abrams, (List Price: $16.99, 9781250805829, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The Frick Museum is housed in a building built as the home for the Henry Clay Frick family, full of spectacular art. Two storylines tell the tale of the home and the family who lived there in the early 20th century, and then another storyline set in the 1960’s at the museum. With secrets and betrayals, life was not placid in either era.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis, (List Price: $27.00, Dutton, 9780593184011, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel Black Cake shares the story of a woman who survives a negligent father, an absent mother, racism, trauma, and exile from her home. It’s only after Eleanor’s death that her children Byron and Benne learn just how much they don’t know about their Ma. Full of twists, Black Cake is the story of a mother’s love and the sacrifices she makes to keep safe.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, (List Price: $28.00, Ballantine Books, 9780593358337, February 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


Catch the Sparrow by Rachel Rear

Catch The Sparrow is a puzzle of a true crime story as Rachel Rear investigates the mysterious disappearance of her stepsister twenty years ago. Through her research, Rear finds that there are more than a couple of people in her sister’s life who could have had a motive in her murder. And as she digs deeper into the police investigation surrounding the case, she also uncovers glaring oversights and corruption within the local police department as well as the legal system in and around Rochester, NY. Every chapter pulls a new fascinating thread and eventually leads the author to the chilling truth, offering her and her family the closure that they’ve always sought.

Catch the Sparrow by Rachel Rear, (List Price: $27.00, 9781635577235, February 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, .novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo

To many people – myself included – Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win for Girl, Woman, Other appeared to come out of the blue. But, as Manifesto reveals, her apparent overnight success was actually 40 years in the making. Recounting her life and career with the characteristic humor and insight that made Girl, Woman, Other such a success, Manifesto is a passionate paean to the power of persistence.

Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo, (List Price: $27.00, 9780802158901, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Sea State by Tabitha Lasley

I can’t claim to be in the traditional target audience for romantic memoirs written by women in their thirties, but the cover art was so wonderful that I had to pick up Sea State. I found the story in the book to be a rather skillful balancing act in which Lasley simultaneously profiles an oil industry in crisis and chronicles her own attachments to, and impressions of, the men who work in it. She immediately becomes the mistress of a married oil rig worker, which causes her a significant deal of stress, but also offers her an unparalleled degree of access to the types of men who work on offshore oil rigs. I think she has interesting interactions with these men, treating them with respect and honesty… or whatever else they may deserve at the moment.

Sea State by Tabitha Lasley, (List Price: $27.99, $27.99, 9780063030831, December 2021)

Reviewed by Carter Adkins, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen

Addie is a fat dancer, and proud of it–not letting her peers or anybody else allow her to feel shame or inferiority because of her body. She has a group of truly excellent friends, who throughout the book are self-affirming, endlessly supportive, and outright hilarious. I wish I’d had anything close to these friends when I was in high school. Scratch that, I wish I had these friends now. Together, they hatch a plan to financially support Addie’s potential post-graduation job with a dance company in Milan that involves an underground burlesque show, and through it, Addie discovers the self-affirming and body-positive power of burlesque, which she and her friends had previously cast aside as creative stripping. But she also has, and does, stand up to misogyny, slut-shaming, and fatphobia from her peers and superiors, and Larsen is truly excellent at illustrating exactly how internalized bigotry can hurt you even when you think you love who you are, just because we live in a world where anything that isn’t the default is constantly assumed to be aberrant. The best YA I’ve read all year!!

The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen, (List Price: $17.99, 9781250252173, December 2021)

Reviewed by Akil Guruparan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Justice Is… by Preet Bharara

Justice Is… is the perfect introduction to justice for young readers. While the text teaches readers what justice is, how hard it can be, and why it is so important, the illustrations guide the story by portraying key people and social movements from history. With an emphasis on the United States but including world figures like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, this book makes a wonderful accompaniment to biographies and stories of history and justice.

Justice Is… by Preet Bharara, (List Price: $17.99, Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780593176627, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Fearless Heart by Frank Murphy

Surya Bonaly is an amazing Olympic ice skater who astounded the world with her abilities on ice. Fearless Heart tells her story with beautiful illustrations that shows Surya’s life, her challenges, and her triumph. Fearless Heart will inspire the reader to work hard to follow their dreams, and stand up for what they believe in.

Fearless Heart by Frank Murphy, (List Price: $17.95, Triumph Books, 9781629379340, January 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina


This month’s Southern indie bookseller favorites. [FULL LIST]

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